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The Forbidden City / National Palace Museum (东四清真寺/Gùgōng bówùyuàn), Beijing

The Palace Museum - The Hall of Supreme Harmony

Forbidden City (故宫/Gùgōng) or National Palace Museum / 故宫博物院 (Gùgōng bówùyuàn)

The Palace Museum - The Hall of Supreme Harmony

The Forbidden City  (故宫/Gùgōng) is also known as National Palace Museum ( 故宫博物院/Gùgōng bówùyuàn).  It is the abode for 24 Ming and Qing emperors of the Celestial Empire.  There are are 980 buildings, vast courtyards and long corridors that occupy a total area of 178 acres (720, 000 m2) within its moat and 32.5 feet high (9.9m ) walls.

The construction of the palace began in 1406 and was completed in 1420 during the reign of Ming dynasty emperor Yongle. It is alleged that as many as 1,000,000 workers and 100,000 artisans participated in the construction of this imperial palace.

Many of the building were rebuilt and expanded during the Qing dynasty as many of them had been destroyed by fire and calamities.

The last emperor, Puyi, left the Forbidden City in 1924, 11 years after his abdication and the establishment of the Republic of China.

The Meridian Gate (午门 / wǔ mén)

The main entry point for the Forbidden CIty is the Meridian Gate (午门 / Wǔ mén) which is 10 minute walk due north of Tian’anmen Square (天安门).  The emperor , who is called as “Son of Heaven”, would come to the Meridien Gate to review armies and announce new calendar. 

The Gate of Supreme Harmony (太和门 / tài hé mén)

The Gate of Supreme Harmony opens up to a second gigantic courtyard that held audiences of 100,000. On the north end of the courtyard is the Hall of Supreme Harmony (太和殿 / Tài hé diàn).

The Hall of Supreme Harmony (太和殿 / tài hé diàn).

The Hall of Supreme Harmony is a place where the emperor reads important edicts, celebrated his birthday and appointed military leaders. Inside this hall is an elaborated decorated throne flanked by cloisonné cranes (symbolizing longevity) and gorgeous column carved with dragons. 

The Hall of Middle Harmony (中和殿/zhōng hé diàn)

The Hall of Middle Harmony is the second ceremonial hall inside the Forbidden City. It was used by the emperor and his ministers as staging area to prepare for ceremonies. 

The Hall of Preserving Harmony (保和殿/bǎo hé diàn)

The Hall of Preserving Harmony (保和殿/bǎo hé diàn) is located behind the Hall of Middle Harmony (中和殿 /Zhōng hé diàn). This is where the Qing Dynasty New Year’s Eve banquets were held. This edifice was also used as an imperial examination hall for top scholars seeking official positions. 

Touring Route & Time

Entry is allowed only through the Meridian Gate, the south gate of the museum and the exit is via the north, Gate of Divine Prowess (神武门 / shénwǔ mén), or the East Prosperity Gate (东华门/dōng huá mén). 

Visiting the Palace Museum would requires around 3-4 hours for the central axis. If you wish to explore the East and West Wing, you might need to spend more time. 

Opening Hours

MonthsOpening HoursTicketing TimeEntry Time
April to October8:30-17:008:30-16:008:30-16:10
November to March8:30-16:308:30-16:308:30-15:40
  1. Closed on Monday except the Chinese Statutory Holiday
  2. Passport for foreigner/National ID for citizen is required for admission.

Entrance Fee

Entrance TicketApril to October: CNY 60
November to March: CNY 40
Treasure GalleryCNY 10 (in Palace of Tranquil Longevity, including the Opera Museum and Stone Drum Museum)
Clock and Watch GalleryCNY 10 (in Hall for Ancestry Worship)

Location

Baidu Map: Click here

How to Get Here

Getting to The Forbidden City is quite straight forward using Subway.

  • Subway Line 1: Exit at Tiananmen Dong (Tian’anmen West /天安门西) or
    Tiananmen Xi (Tian’anmen East /天安门东) Station

For Bus: Refer here

How to Leave

The exit for The Palace Museum is the North Gate (北门). You will not be able to exit via entrance. 

You may take public bus to get to the Subway station or alternately walk. 

Subway Line 4 Xisi Station (西四)

Walk towards the main road, Jingshan Front Street. Cross the street then walk left towards the Forbidden City Station. Board the following bus:

  • 101/103: Get off at the 3rd stop,  Xisi East Street ( 西四路口东/ Xī sì lùkǒu dōng). Walk for 250 m to the station. Bus fare: CNY 2
  • 109/124: Get off at the 3rd stop, Xisi DingZi Street Station ( 西四丁字街/Xī sì dīngzì jiē). Walk for 250 m to the station. Bus fare: CNY 2
  • 128: Get off at the 2nd Stop, Xi’anmen Street (西安门 /Xī’ān mén). Walk 770m to station. Bus fare: CNY 2

Subway Line 5/6 Dongsi Station (东四)

Walk towards the main road, Jingshan Front Street. The Forbidden City Station is located at the left side of the road. 

  • 128: Get off at the 2nd stop, East of The Museum (美术馆东/Měishù guǎn dōng) and walk for 310m to the subway Station . Bus fare: CNY 2
  • 109/58/101 : Get off at the 3rd stop, Dongsi Road East (东四路口东/Dōng sì lùkǒu dōng) station. Walk 50m to the station. Bus fare: CNY 2

Subway Line 1 Tiananmen West Station (天安门西/Tiān'ānmén xī)

Walk along the main street Jingshan Qian Street (景山前街/ jǐngshān qián jiē ) towards the west side (left side) for 260m. Turn right into Jingshan West Street (景山西街/jǐngshān xī jiē) Board the following bus at Xī Bǎn Qiáo Station (西板桥站):

  • 5: Get off at the 3rd stop, West Gate of Zhongshan park(中山公园西门/Zhōngshān gōngyuán xīmén). Walk 180m to the station. Bus fare: CNY2

Subway Line 1 Tiananmen East Station (天安门东/Tiān'ānmén dōng)

At the main street,   walk 150 meters towards the east (right side) along Jingshan Qian Street (景山前街/ jǐngshān qián jiē )  to the Forbidden City Station. Board the following bus: 

  • Sight Seeing Line 1 (观光1线): Get off at the 3rd stop, Nan Heyan Station (南河沿/ Nán héyán). Walk for 570 m to the subway station. Bus fare : CNY 20
  • Sight Seeing Line 2 (观光2线): Get off at the 6th stop, Tiananmen East (天安门东/Tiān’ānmén dōng ). Walk for 130 m to the subway station. Bus fare : CNY 20

Subway Line 1 Wangfujing Station (王府井/Wángfǔ jǐng)

Walk towards the main road, Jingshan Front Street. The Forbidden City Station is located at the left side of the road. Board the following bus: 

  • 103: Get off at the 6th stop, 王府井路口北 (Wángfǔ jǐng lùkǒu běi/Wangfujing Intersection North). Walk for 220 m the subway station. Bus Fare: CNY 2

We decided to go to Niujie Street afterwards for prayer & dinner. For direction to Niujie Mosque from The Forbidden City, click here.

Photo Gallery

Halal Food

There is no halal restaurant inside the Forbidden City. It will be a long walk to get in here, exploring the palace, and to make a return journey.  Therefore I suggest that you have a heavy breakfast which includes carbohydrate so that you will have the energy to finish up the entire area. 

Bring enough water & snacks like fruits because you will be spending at least half day here. 

Nearby halal restaurant: 

  • Northwest Muslim Restaurant (西北穆斯林餐厅). Google Map | Baidu Map

Praying Area

There is no dedicated praying area for Muslim in the Forbidden City. Majority of the tourist would flock at the central axis. If you need to pray inside here, go towards the farthest side of the East Wing or West Wing  as there are not many crowd visiting these area. Then find a secluded area such as at the back of any building and lay your mat.

Nearby mosque:

  • Dongsi Mosque (东四清真寺/Dōng sì qīngzhēnsì): 2km walk from the exit gate  (Google Map | Baidu Map)
  • Nujie Mosque (牛街礼拜寺/niú jiē lǐbàisì) : 40-60 minute bus ride (Google Map | Baidu Map)

We decided to go to Nujie Mosque to perform our prayer and then our late lunch/early dinner. Click here for direction to Nujie Mosque  from the Forbidden City.

Tips

  • Wear comfortable pair of shoes
  • We advise you to come early in the morning because there is a daily quota of 80,000 visitors in a day. Once the quota reach, you will have to come back on another day to enter the Palace. 
  • Enjoy the stunning bird eye view of the Forbidden City at the top of Coal Hill inside the Jingshan Park (景山公园 /jǐngshān gōngyuán ) which is located at the opposite of the Gate of Divine Prowess (神武门 / shénwǔ mén). Cross the Jingshan Qian Jie and climb to the top of hill. We recommend you to go if you still have the energy to hike the hill after spending the day inside the Forbidden City. 
View of Jingshan Park Coal Hill from the Palace Museum Exit
Jingshan Park (景山公园/jǐngshān gōngyuán)
  • Check out Travel Guide China for more detail information of the Forbidden City and China travel

Author's Note

This is the first attraction that we set foot on upon arrival at Beijing.  All this while I had only watched it in documentary,  film or drama. Visiting The Forbidden City in person is definitely an unforgettable experience. I was struck in awe on how massive the palace is, the archicture, the walls, the staircases, the gates, the yellow tile roof, the white marbles, the columns etc. Subhanallah!  Allah had granted human wisdom and knowledge for them to be able to build such an amazing and massive palace.   

The palace was built more that 600 years ago and it has been home to many emperors before and until today it is still standing strong until today. I began to imagine how more glorious it was back then. Indeed,  this an example that our life isn’t permanent and everyone will be returned to Him. He replaces us with new generations, one after another.

We took a break for a few times to quench our thirst. Never in my life I had walked on a historical place which is as big as this, not in Malaysia. I feel so small in here. Indeed, Allah had created the earth and the sky for us, mankind, to think and ponder. He left us many signs but we are still living in ignorance. 

Date of Visit: 7 May 2017

Useful Phrases

ChinesePinyinEnglish
 故宫gùgōngForbidden City
公车gōngchēBus
地铁dìtiěSubway
zhànStation
公车站Gōngchē zhànBus Station
地铁站Dìtiě zhànSubway Station

Reference

  1. Travel China Guide, Forbidden City (Palace Museum) [online]. Retrieved 12 February 2020. 
  2. Intercontinental’s Best of China (2004), 64-67,   Marshall Cavendish.
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